Black History Month: Surfboards and Skateboards (Pt.1)

Part 1: Surfboards 

(Past & Present)


Black Skaters and Surfers…What’s This Got to do with Black History?

So I know many of you may be wondering what surfing and skateboarding have to do with Black History Month. Well, if you didn’t know, streetwear was influenced by the cultures of the skateboarding and surfing communities. Being that BE TH3 CHANGE is an up-and-coming streetwear brand, what better way to pay homage to not only the birth of the streetwear culture, but to the Blacks that made history within what is considered predominantly white sports.

The Stigma With Being a Black Surfer There are a lot of stigmas that come along with being a Black surfer. Some people think that surfing is for only White people, Blacks don’t swim, or Black women don’t get their hair wet. There have been stereotypes on both sides of the spectrum. Here is the trailer for White Wash, the documentary which talks about some of those stigmas, and the history of Blacks surfing. [youtube][/youtube]


Pioneers of Surfing – Putting Black Surfers on the Map

nick_gabaldon-01aNick Gabaldon is credited with being the first Black and Mexican (his mother was Black and his father was Mexican) surfer in California at a time when beaches were segregated. Despite being an amateur recreational surfer rather than a professional competitive surfer, he is widely considered a role model for his part in the history of surfing and African American history in the areas of Santa Monica and California. He began surfing in 1949, on a segregated stretch of the Santa Monica Beach, referred to as “The Inkwell” or “Negro Beach.” However, he met his demise in 1951, when attempting a surf move known as the “pier ride,” he crashed into the Malibu Pier. He was 24 years old.

IMG_0284Frank Edwards is noted as the second most significant person in the history of Black surfing. His time in the water came in the 1960’s when the sport was becoming extremely popular along the California coast. Unlike most Blacks, he excelled at surfing rather quickly – though, perhaps it was because not many Blacks were attempting to surf during these times. Needless to say, his tremendous surfing ability helped make him very popular and although he was the only Black person in his high school, he was elected senior class president and secretary of the Bay Cities Surf Club. He was also a member of the Jacobs Surf Team, and legend has it that when the waters were rough at Redondo Breakwater’s outer reef, only Frank along with hall of fame surfer, Greg Noll would dare to surf! Ebony Magazine printed a feature story about Frank in 1963.

The Women Riding Those…Surfboards! BlkSurfer1 Imani Wilmot, also referred to as Jamaica’s “Daughter of Surfing,” is a 23 year old wave rider. She comes from a family of surfers! Her father, Anthony Wilmot, is considered the Godfather of Jamaican surfing, taught her to surf at the age of nine, and her five brothers are all professional surfers. It seems that her becoming a surfer was pure destiny. She is currently the top Jamaican female surfer and a surf instructor at the Jamnesia Surf Camp. More recently, she has launched a campaign called “Surf Like A Girl” that is aimed at getting more Jamaican girls into the sport of surfing. 22nd - Andrea-introspective

Andrea Kabwasa, is a teacher and an artist who began surfing at the age of 32. She began surfing as a therapeutic way to overcome the effects of an abusive relationship. She said “…surf­ing is hap­pi­ness, love and self-empowerment. The act of inter­act­ing with water cleansed my inner spirit. Before surf­ing, the lens from which I viewed life was pretty dirty. I was filled with low self-worth and, at times, I made some pretty self-destructive choices. Surf­ing redi­rected that energy in a pos­i­tive direc­tion. When I surf, I feel beau­ti­ful. I’m a start­ing to feel beau­ti­ful on dry land too now.” There are plenty of Black men who ride the waves; however, I highlighted a couple of women to help dispel any myths about Black women not wanting to get their hair wet! 😉

22nd - Black Boys

22nd - Black Men

However, below you will find a video of Surfer Pro, Sal Masekela riding the waves.


[youtube][/youtube]   [poll id=’21’]


Chicago Tribune

Black Surfing